20170915-17 Local and Burwash Kestrels, Syrphids, Polistes, Fall Colours

It has been hot and dry over the last while, muting fall colours but stimulating insect activity, especially on fall asters.

Here are some examples:

This Red Maple, Acer rubrum,  in front of a slowly turning Sugar Maple, Acer  saccharum, is caught in some back-lighting which  enhances its colouration.

The colouration of “turning leaves” is caused by the plant’s ability to withdraw precious leaf nutrients back into the branch, buds and roots, during abscission, prior to leaf fall .  When the nutrients are withdrawn the nature of the leaf’s chlorophylls change  to reflect the red, yellow and purple parts of the visible sunlight spectrum.

The timing, length, intensity of the fall colours are affected by a variety of plant stressors such as extreme temperatures, soil moisture, wind and rain, and disease.

This is gives a good layman’s explanation, clarifying much of the mythology surrounding “fall colors”:  http://www.usna.usda.gov/PhotoGallery/FallFoliage/ScienceFallColor.html

This American Kestrel  was seen perched high up in a Jackpine tree along Hwy 529.  The smallest of falcons, it is abundant in North America where it is used in Micro-falconry.

This unidentified hawk was hidden a long ways away off of Hwy 529.

The quirkly named Spiranthes romanzoffiana, Hooded Ladies Tresses,  little orchids, are abundant in roadside ditches …

Most of the wild cherries have disappeared, eaten by a variety of foragers.

Syrphid flies, aka Hoverflies and Flower flies, are very active, collecting pollen and nectar from fall Asters.

One could spend a long time learning to identify all of them:



Northern paper wasps, Polistes fuscatus, seem to be looking for places to construct new nests…

A little visitor on this white Amanita muscaria, under the pine trees at the Moose Lake Trading Post.

The weak colours of this Sugar Maple at Burwash are enhanced a bit by a breeze and cross-lighting from the left:

American Kestrel at Burwash, probably fledged from the nesting box on a power pole in the old townsite…

Sunlight through the morning fog on Hwy 529 illuminates the needles of this well-flagged White Pine:

Just below and to the right of the above pine, these dew-wet Staghorn Sumac leaves are back – lit by a weak sun to reveal their colours.

It seems that the best time to capture fall colours is early morning, when the leaves are wet with dew and the sun is low.  Back-lighting and side-lighting seem to bring out the colours optimally.

Shooting down-sun at midday seems to sub-optimal when the colours are bland to begin with.   We’ll have to check this theory out during some future autumns.

We have lots to learn as we adapt to a changing climate.  Even a painter on the Faroe Islands is subject to the “vagaries of nature“.